As a pro-active Education Minister, you surely wish to leave a distinguished mark on the history of educational reforms in India. Permit me to share with you some broad areas which you may find relevant.
1. Re-engineering our education system
India no longer needs to produce only administrators, followers and executors. She also needs innovators. She needs people who can think big. Those who can think out-of-the-box and can come up with novel solutions to her unique set of problems. She deserves a system which places less emphasis on rote and more on development of creative faculties.
2. Doing away with the ‘centum’ craze
We need to offer an eco-system which does away with the mind-numbing race to score higher and higher marks. These days, if a student manages to secure 99% either in languages or in any stream of humanities, we are led to wonder if the testing system itself is credible.
3. Excelling in research, avoiding re-search
Let the institutions of higher learning focus on teaching and research. An over-emphasis on organizing seminars and other extra-curricular activities is leading to a situation where the core job of faculty – teaching and research – is getting diluted. The fact that not a single Indian institution of higher learning figures in the list of top 200 universities prepared by The Times Higher Education Supplement makes one pause and think.
4. Credits are good, monochromatic mediocrity is not
The proposed Choice Based Credit System is commendable, but makes better sense at the post-graduate level. What we do not need is a monochromatic and mediocre spectrum of higher education which spoils the beauty that India innately is – diverse and federal. Let the autonomy remain and even be encouraged. Institutions of higher learning need to excel in their respective domains; to do so, they need autonomy. Standardization across the country is an idea which could be allowed to rest in peace.
5. Values, ethics and morals
We need citizens who not only demand rights but also respect and discharge their own obligations. One of the goals we need to have is to blend the material and the spiritual. Courses which propagate higher values, ethics and morals need to be designed and offered. Scriptures from various religions are a repository of great wisdom. Great seers and thinkers like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo have left behind a rich legacy of concepts and thoughts. We need to encourage institutions which can translate and communicate these in a relevant and effective manner to the youth of today.
6. Educated in India
In an increasingly globalized world, the need is to attract Ivy League institutions and true blue academicians to India. Policies need to be announced to attract some of our best minds into teaching and research. Schemes need to be devised to ensure that our teachers are motivated better. An open-minded policy on foreign languages would help the youth connect better with the world. Much like our mission to ‘Make in India’, let us strive to create a brand ‘Educated in India’. Let India become the hub of higher learning in the Asian region yet again and regain its past glory.
7. Goals are found, means need to follow
As a percentage to GDP, India spends less than 3.5% on education. This will not do. Revamping the conceptual infrastructure of the education system is as critical to the long-term growth of India as the creation of physical infrastructure is. What we sow now, our coming generations shall reap. Objectives of our educational infrastructure cannot be fulfilled only by an increasing participation of the private sector. Funding for education deserves to be accorded a higher priority.
I submit the above with all humility at my command. I do hope these would get considered and a due diligence carried out by subject experts on your panel. Discussions with major stakeholders would ensure that a radically new education policy is announced soon. The future of India is in your capable hands.
Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to participate in a discussion of this nature.
An ordinary citizen of India